Many people love having their teeth cleaned, others not so much. The fact is, no matter how you feel about your hygiene appointments, they are a necessary part of keeping your whole self healthy. While many people have been going to the dentist for regular hygiene appointments for years, we have been finding lately there are also many adults who have never been for a hygiene appointment and may wonder what to expect.
1. Medical history update. Your oral health is important to your overall health and vice versa. For this reason, it is extremely important to discuss with your dental hygienist any changes in medications, conditions, hospitalizations, etc. Your dental hygienist will also ask you if you have any concerns with any of your teeth at this time.
2. Head and neck exam. The average person typically sees their dental team more often than their family doctor. For this reason, at every regular preventive dental appointment, you will have a head and neck exam where your dentist or dental hygienist checks your lymph nodes, your jaw joint, your head and neck muscles and your sinuses for any abnormalities.
3. Intra-oral exam. Your dental hygienist will have a look at the hard and soft tissues of the mouth. This is completed with a mirror and dental instrument called an explorer. Our intra-oral camera is often used so that you may see any abnormalities such as a breaking down filling, a chip in the tooth, or anything visibly out of place with your gums and tissues. Any abnormalities will be discussed and noted in your chart, and then brought to the attention of the dentist during the recall exam.
4. Necessary x-rays. If the doctor has prescribed x-rays, they will be taken at your hygiene appointment. Check up x-rays look specifically between the teeth and will allow the dentist to determine if there are any cavities. The x-rays also allow the hygienist and dentist to see your bone levels and if there are any deposits of calculus (tartar) under the gumline that need to be removed.
5. Gum measurements. At least once per year, depending on your overall oral health, your dental hygienist will measure your gums. This gives us a baseline measurement to compare over the years ahead. We measure the pockets around the teeth, the areas of gum recession, and check for mobilities and bleeding. This info is kept on file as a part of your chart for easy comparison.
6. Removal of plaque and bacteria. Now to the reason you are here! Your dental hygienist will remove plaque, calculus and bacteria from your teeth and away from your gums. This is accomplished with specialized dental hygiene instruments shaped differently for each part of the tooth. Removing the plaque and bacteria is essential for reducing inflammation and bone loss. Inflammation in the gums and supporting structures of the teeth is what puts you at a greater risk for systemic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
7. Polish. The best part of coming in for regular hygiene visits for some of our patients is leaving with a sparkling smile! We use a slightly gritty toothpaste to gently polish any surface stains away from the teeth, leaving your smile a little brighter! After the polish, your dental hygienist will finish with a full mouth floss. This is also a chance for you to learn the most effective flossing technique.
8. Recall exam. After your dental hygienist has completed the appointment, the dentist will come in to check the findings and make any diagnosis. He or she will discuss the findings with you, show you any pictures and answer any questions you may have. Your dental hygienist will then discuss how often you should be coming for a regular maintenance appointment and can get you booked into the schedule for your next visit.
Your dental team’s primary goal is to make you as comfortable as possible for any treatment you receive at out office. You will be offered anesthetic gel if needed to help make your gums more comfortable for your appointment, and any questions about treatment will be thoroughly discussed until you are comfortable. Removal of harmful oral bacteria is the first step in reducing inflammation in the mouth and helping to improve your overall health. Please give us a call at 705 792 0079 if you are in the Barrie area and looking to improve your smile as well as your health!